Australian Open 2020: Federer's best wins in Melbourne after reaching 100 victories

By Sports Desk January 24, 2020

Roger Federer secured his 100th Australian Open win by beating John Millman in Melbourne on Friday.

The Swiss star has never lost before the third round at the year's first grand slam and his title bid continued with an epic five-set triumph over the home favourite on Rod Laver Arena.

Federer moved onto a century of wins at the Australian Open, a year after reaching the same mark at Wimbledon.

The 20-time grand slam champion became the first man to post 100 wins at a single major by getting to the landmark at the All England Club.

We take a look at five of his best wins at the Australian Open.

 

First round, 2000: bt Michael Chang 6-4 6-4 7-6 (7-5)

Federer's first win at the tournament came 20 years ago, when – ranked 62nd in the world – he upset Chang. Federer had finished 1999 by winning a Challenger Tour event in Brest and he got to the third round in Melbourne before falling to Arnaud Clement. An 18-year-old Federer showcased his talent by beating Chang in his opener, which marked his first main-draw singles win at a grand slam.

Semi-final, 2004: bt Juan Carlos Ferrero [3] 6-4 6-1 6-4

Federer produced a spectacular run on his way to a first Australian Open title in 2004, including rushing past Ferrero in the semi-finals. Having already beaten Lleyton Hewitt and David Nalbandian, Federer needed less than 90 minutes to crush Ferrero and secure the world number one ranking before recording a straight-sets win over Marat Safin in the final.

Semi-final, 2007: bt Andy Roddick [6] 6-4 6-0 6-2

Federer tormented Roddick during the American's career but their last-four clash in 2007 promised to be a thriller, after the Swiss needed four sets to beat the same opponent months earlier in the US Open final. However, it proved to be anything but as Federer crushed Roddick in just 83 minutes. "I was playing out of my mind. I am shocked myself," Federer said afterwards.

Last 16, 2009: bt Tomas Berdych [20] 4-6 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-4 6-2

Only once in his illustrious career has Federer come from two sets to love down to win at the Australian Open and it came against the Czech in 2009. Berdych had taken complete control of the encounter before allowing Federer back into the match, the Swiss winning after three hours and 25 minutes. He would go on to reach the final before falling to Rafael Nadal in five sets.

Final, 2017: bt Rafael Nadal [9] 6-4 3-6 6-1 3-6 6-3

Having undergone knee surgery the previous year, Federer started 2017 at the Hopman Cup but, without a major title since his 17th at Wimbledon in 2012, few gave him much of a chance in Melbourne. However, he fought his way into the final before edging Nadal in a thriller, moving onto 18 major titles and leaving his Spanish rival on 14.

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    Thursday marks 17 years to the day since LeBron James made his NBA debut with the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Sacramento Kings.

    The number one overall draft pick, who had 25 points in his first game, went on to win the Rookie of the Year award in 2003-04 and has been at the forefront of the league ever since.

    James has been MVP on four occasions and earlier this month collected his fourth championship ring, also winning Finals MVP for a fourth time at the age of 35.

    Only three other players have been named Finals MVP after their 35th birthday: fellow greats Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and, of course, Michael Jordan.

    But how did they fare in the final years of their careers after being the main men on title-winning teams as veterans? And how might that colour what we can expect from LeBron beyond year 17?

    We use Stats Perform Data to take a look.
     

    WILT CHAMBERLAIN - 1972 Finals MVP, aged 35

    The Finals MVP award was not introduced until the 1969 series when Chamberlain was already in his 30s – by then an NBA champion with the Philadelphia 76ers and a four-time MVP – but he was belatedly recognised as he guided the Lakers past the New York Knicks three years later, winning their first title since moving to Los Angeles.

    But Wilt would not then go on to add to his honours as he played just one more season before retiring.

    The veteran still played all 82 regular season games in 1972-73, averaging more minutes (43.2) than in the championship-winning campaign, but he endured the lowest scoring year of his career, with 13.2 points per game. He had peaked at 50.4 points 11 years earlier.

    Shooting less regularly, there were still flashes of Chamberlain's old magic as he remarkably had the NBA's highest all-time field-goal percentage across a season (minimum 500 attempts) with 72.7 per cent made. Only DeAndre Jordan in three straight seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers – between 2014 and 2017 – has shot above 70 per cent.

    The Lakers will certainly hope James does not go down the same path, having been backed to play into his 40s by LA assistant Jason Kidd and former Miami Heat team-mate Dwyane Wade.
     

    KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR - 1985 Finals MVP, aged 38

    Abdul-Jabbar won his first Finals MVP with the Milwaukee Bucks the year before Chamberlain's but, despite collecting two more rings in the interim, had to wait until 1985 to be hailed again as the postseason's outstanding player. Kareem outperformed Lakers team-mate Magic Johnson – 12 years his junior – as they beat the Boston Celtics and he became the oldest NBA Finals MVP.

    And yet his career was not over, with the support of Johnson surely an example the 2020 Lakers would like to follow as Anthony Davis aids LeBron.

    Abdul-Jabbar's production actually improved in the season he turned 39 – scoring 23.4 points per game, up from 22.0 – but that would be the last year he averaged at least 20.0, ending a record 17-season streak that has since been matched by Karl Malone and James, who can surpass that mark in 2020-21.

    The Lakers kept winning as Kareem's numbers understandably dropped, though, taking the title in 1987 and 1988 – led by Johnson and James Worthy.

    A 42-year-old Abdul-Jabbar retired in 1989 after seeing his field-goal percentage dip below 50 per cent in a season for the first time at 47.5. His astounding 19-year stretch of making more than half of his attempts stands as a record, later tied by Shaquille O'Neal.


    MICHAEL JORDAN - 1998 Finals MVP, aged 35

    Jordan might be considered the clear rival to James in the 'GOAT' debate, but LeBron is not likely to follow in MJ's footsteps after his 'Last Dance' with the Chicago Bulls in 1998. Beating the Utah Jazz, he won a third straight title and a third straight Finals MVP for the second time yet was done at the top level thereafter.

    The 35-year-old retired from the sport again, only to return once more in 2001 with the Washington Wizards.

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    LEBRON JAMES - 2020 Finals MVP, aged 35

    If Abdul-Jabbar provides the best example of how a superstar should treat the final years of his career, LeBron appears well placed to similarly profit.

    With the arrival of Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans last year, James' game changed to incorporate a second elite scorer, becoming a passer as he logged a career-high 10.2 assists per game.

    LeBron became the oldest player in NBA history to average 25.0 points and 10.0 assists. No rival has ever managed such a performance past the age of 30, let alone 35.

    Crucially, the former Cavs man was also more protected. He visited the foul line less often (down from 7.6 free-throw attempts to 5.7) and recorded fewer rebounds (down from 8.5 to 7.8)

    And his 34.6 minutes per game – a career-low – represented the fewest in league history while scoring 25.0 points and 10.0 assists.

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    Part of Solskjaer's problem here is obvious: Van de Beek, Fernandes and Pogba are midfielders with similar technical qualities, so fitting them all in the same line-up is a challenge. Their average positions in league football last season, for instance, are all neatly within the centre circle.

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    So prevails the conventional wisdom, anyway. But Van de Beek could be better suited to these systems than it appears if Solskjaer decides to be bold.

    Van de Beek's attacking strengths are clear. Last season in the Eredivisie, he managed the same number of shots (44) as Fernandes did in the Premier League, at an average of 2.1 per game (down on Fernandes' 3.3, but higher than Pogba's 1.6).

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  • Djokovic set to match Sampras record after victory over Coric in Vienna Djokovic set to match Sampras record after victory over Coric in Vienna

    Novak Djokovic will almost certainly finish the year at the top of the ATP world rankings for a joint-record sixth time after he claimed a hard-fought win over Borna Coric at the Vienna Open. 

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    Earlier, Stefanos Tsitsipas opted to switch his shoe in the third set of his match with Jan-Lennard Struff, though the third seed ultimately came through the contest to tee up a tie with Grigor Dimitrov. 

    With the third set tied at 1-1, Nitto ATP Finals champion Tsitsipas changed his footwear and subsequently broke serve, going on to record a 6-7 (7-3) 6-3 6-4 triumph. 

    Daniil Medvedev, meanwhile, is enjoying the hospitality in Austria as he eased past Jason Jung 6-3 6-1 in his first-round match. 

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    "These small things make tennis players happy all the time. The most important is to play good on the tennis court, so the organisation is very good."

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